On the Other Hand...
by Jim Davies
John and Jane Relax
John and Jane lived together. I don't really know whether they ever underwent a marriage ceremony; there are no wedding photos on their walls but they'd been together, so their neighbors say, for several years; so even if they never signed a bit of government paper I guess they may still be man and wife, in "common law". And they really were fond of one another, which is more than you can say for a lot of those who hang up all those fancy penguin-suit pictures.
They are not, let's face it, prime examples of the idealized lifestyle. They do not live in a 'burb. They have no car, just a six year old truck. They have no children, and they live in a "mobile home" in the woods near the lakefront, though it's many years since it ever moved. John took out a mortgage, but has paid it off. Something else you can't say about your average Middle American.
Each of them has a job, and neither of them collects welfare, so the modest amount of money the two of them receive is all obtained peacefully; they are neither of them a burden on society. Both dropped out of high school (John says he was being "bored to tears") and so they are neither of them likely to earn a whole lot more than they are doing now - but it's enough to keep them modestly comfortable. Despite the heavy burden of taxes, they have a little to spare.
And, when we join them in their non-mobile home, it's Friday evening.
A lot of us like to escape, especially after an honest week's work. We might read an unlikely novel, or more commonly watch a movie bearing just a passing resemblance to real life, but we reckon we've earned the right to "switch off" for a while. And John and Jane are no exceptions.
While watching Channel 99's Movie of the Week, they sit in each other's arms while John puts away a series of large Bourbons, and feels real good. Jane, meanwhile, smokes pot and feels just as good, and does it through one of those glass bowl-and-tube cooler arrangements called a "bong", for she doesn't like the acrid effect of the smoke on her larynx. Sensible lady.
They drift off into a very happy evening, each of them high as a kite.
The movie over, they slip along to bed, and make love - but while they both enjoy it, Jane is ready for more whereas John is pretty well finished after Round One. And so they sleep, the sleep of the just.
Dawn's early light reaches John and Jane around 6.30 Saturday morning, and Jane is awake and still ready for more - but John is now really hung over and pleads a humdinger of a headache. Neither of them know what is about to go down.
Showers half done, each nearly dies of shock at 6.55 when the door to their home bursts in with a violent noise, and one then two then three black-clad men spring inside with assault guns pointed right at them. Before they have time to take in what is happening, each is wrestled face down on to the floor.
Our government, you see, has paid them an unexpected visit.
Both are 'cuffed and taken away to the local lockup, and after extensive grilling John is released for want of evidence that he ever smoked, grew, bought or even handled a forbidden substance and, because it wasn't thought to be worth the cost of selling, his home was not siezed. Jane is not so lucky.
The DEA thugs who did the raid found the bong with Jane's dabs all over it, and after searching the nearby State woods discovered as well the marijuana plants that Jane admitted planting. Unhappily, she never had heard that utterly priceless advice to all of us, about what to do when questioned by any agent of government: (1) Be Quiet, (2) Stay Silent and (3) Shut Up!
Although she was offered an attorney, very quietly, she turned down the offer just as they hoped she would because, though not versed in the Law, she knew quite well she had done nothing wrong, so what did she have to fear?
That was her second mistake.
Two months later, Jane was sent down for eleven years, because her jury obeyed the government judge; and the light went out of John's life.
Jane found herself in the same prison as the Manson girls, who had viciously slaughtered Sharon Tate and others at the bidding of that psychopath. She also noticed, however, that over half of her fellow-inmates were there for "offenses" very similar to her own - the possession, production or sale of substances that customers wanted to buy, but which the government, with impetus from Middle Americans who never gave the subject more than a passing, bigoted thought fanned by power-drunk politicians, had declared illegal.
She also read in the newspaper that out there on the streets of the nearest city, mayhem was being caused by several murderers and rapists who had been given parole to make prison room for herself and some of her new friends.
After 18 months, John could no longer take the crushing anguish of being separated from his one and only love, and was found hanged from a tree beside the lake, a few yards from the home the two of them once had shared. The government coroner found his death a "suicide."
I don't know what you think, about John and Jane and the DEA thugs and the jury and the coroner's verdict. But I do know what I think. And I think that you can rather easily imagine what I think. And if you can, why not think again?
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